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Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

RECIPE: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Gingerbread Cookies

Chocolate Chip Ginger Cookies

Swedish Pearl Sugar

Mini Chocolate Chips

[1] Gingerbread cookies with two hits of chocolate: cocoa powder and chocolate chips. [2] Swedish pearl sugar, not to be confused with Belgian pearl sugar, which is much larger. [3] Don’t forget the mini chips! (Photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.)

 

How can you improve gingerbread?

Add chocolate chips, and a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Swedish pearl sugar adds a festive touch.

The cookies are soft and chewy, and are a delight served warm from the oven. They’ll keep for several days in an airtight container.

Prep time is 10 to 15 minutes, bake time is 10 to 12 minutes.

RECIPE: CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CHIP GINGERBREAD COOKIES

Ingredients For 30-32 Cookies

  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose baking cocoa, or Dutch-process cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 cup semisweet mini mini chips
  • 5 tablespoons Swedish pearl sugar*
  •  
    ________________
    *The difference between Swedish pearl sugar and Belgian pearl sugar (they’re not interchangeable) and all types of sugar.
    ________________
     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease the sheets lightly.

    2. COMBINE the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, and cocoa. In a separate bowl, beat the butter with the sugar until light and creamy. Add the molasses and beat until combined.

    3. BEAT in the dry ingredients, then stir in the chips.

    4. SCOOP the dough a tablespoon at a time (a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here). Roll the top portion of each dough ball in the pearl sugar.

    5. PLACE the unbaked cookies 1-1/2″ apart, sugar side up, on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookie surface begins to crack.

    6. REMOVE from the oven, cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

     

     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Snowman Cake Or Cookies

    Snowman Cake

    Melted Snowman Cookies

    Snowman cake. This is actually a stacked cookie from Lila Loa, but we baked three cake layers instead. [2] Melting Snowman cookies (photo courtesy Pillsbury; here’s the recipe).

     

    If you don’t celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or other year-end holiday, you can still have a special seasonal cake.

    Make one with a nonsectarian snowman or snowflake motif. These work for New Year’s Eve, too (perhaps with a sparkler or two).

    Snowmen are easier; snowflakes require some serious piping chops.

    This photo is actually a stacked cookie from Lila Loa. We love the idea.

    But we needed a cake. So we baked and stacked three graduated cake layers.

    We made lemon pound cake* layers with coconut frosting (vanilla frosting topped with coconut).

    Of course, carrot cake, chocolate cake, red velvet or any flavor you prefer would be just as nice.

    MORE TASTY SNOWMEN

  • Snowman California Rolls (sushi)
  • Snowman Cheese Ball
  • Snowman Fruit Bowl
  • Melting Snowman Cookies
  • Snowman Cupcakes
  • Snowman Latte
  •  
    ________________
    *We wanted a dense, easy-to-cut cake rather than an airy one with a delicate crumb.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Struffoli, An Italian Christmas Tradition

    Struffoli Candied Fruit

    Struffoli Wreath

    Struffoli Cornucopia

    Frying Stuffoli

    Croque Em Bouche

    1000 Italian Recipes Book

    [1] A mound of struffoli, the traditional shape, from Linda’s Italian Table. It can be cut into slices, or for a party, put on the buffet so everyone can pick off what they like. [2] A loose wreath style from Il Cuori In Pentola. [3] A cornucopia shape, called Cornucopia di Sfoglia in Italian. It’s decorated with chocolate foil coins, by Oggi Cucino Cosi. [4] Frying the dough at My Spice Sage. If you can fry, you can make struffoli. [5] Croque em bouche, a special occasion treat in France, is often served instead of wedding cake. These smaller versions are decorated for the holidays by François Payard Bakery in New York City. [6] The recipes in this book include one for struffoli, reprinted below. You can see the recipes for any of these photos by clicking their links.

     

    How about a holiday baking project for family and friends?

    If you don’t have your own holiday baking tradition like Christmas cookies, gingerbread people or spritz cookies, how about struffoli?

    Struffoli (STROO-fo-lee) are puffy balls of eggy fried dough coated in honey. They are a traditional Christmas sweet in Naples and other parts of central and southern Italy.

    The fried dough is stacked into a cone-shape centerpiece or assembled into a wreath design. More ambitious cooks have the puffs spilling out a pastry horn of plenty. We like to present it with after-dinner coffee.

    It’s actually quite easy: If you can fry, you can make struffoli.

    Struffoli look like a smaller, flat croquembouche. Both have a crunchy outside and soft inside.

  • Croque Em Bouche is made from profiteroles—cream puffs—that are baked, filled and stacked into the shape of a large cone. The puffs are held together by caramelized (spun) sugar and finished with drizzled caramel. It is served for weddings and other celebrations.
  • Struffoli is made from deep-fried dough the size of marbles. There is no filling, but the balls are rolled in honey to stick together. They can be shaped into a cone or a wreath.
  • Stuffoli can be set on a cone base made from nougatine, a mixture of caramelized sugar and sliced almonds.
  • Croque em bouche is also traditionally served during baptisms and other special occasions. The name means “[it] cracks in the mouth,” which is what the caramelized sugar does!
  •  
    DECORATING THE STRUFFOLI

    While struffoli can be served plain, you can express your creativity with decorations.

  • The Italian preference is for pastel sprinkle mixes. We suggest red, green and white sugar holiday confetti or sprinkles.
  • For an old-fashioned approach: candied red and green cherries or other candied fruits.
  • You may want to avoid Jordan almonds or candied nuts, another traditional decoration, if any guest may be allergic.
  • Like to roll fondant? Drape a red “ribbon” around the pastry and top with a “bow.” You can use real ribbon if you prefer.
  • Want elegance? Get gold and silver edible dragées and pearls.
  • Our favorite: strips of candied orange peel or an assortment of all the citrus peels you can collect. Dipping the peels in chocolate is our own personal touch. Here’s a recipe.
  •  
    RECIPE: STRUFFOLI (NEAPOLITAN HONEY BALLS)

    This recipe, from 1,000 Italian Recipes by Michele Scicolone, can easily be doubled. It is © copyright Michele Scicolone.

    If you like the idea but not the labor, call the nearest Italian bakery and order one.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus more for kneading the dough
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup honey (about 6 ounces)
  •  
    TIP: Use quality honey instead of the generic supermarket variety for a more elegant flavor.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cup of flour and the salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and lemon zest and stir until well blended.

    2. TURN OUT the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth (about 5 minutes). Add a bit more flour if the dough seems sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and cover with an overturned bowl. Let the dough rest 30 minutes.

    3. CUT the dough into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Roll one slice between your palms into a 1/2-inch-thick rope. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch nuggets. If the dough feels sticky, use a teeny bit of flour to dust the board or your hands. (Excess flour will cause the oil to foam up when you fry the struffoli.)

    4. LINE a tray with paper towels. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wide heavy saucepan and heat to 370°F, or until a small bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles and turns brown in 1 minute.

    5. PLACE just enough struffoli in the pan to fit without crowding, taking care not to splash the hot oil. Cook, stirring once or twice with a slotted spoon, until the struffoli are crisp and evenly golden brown (1 to 2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon or skimmer and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough. When all of the struffoli are fried…

     

    6. GENTLY HEAT the honey to just a simmer in a large, shallow saucepan. Remove from the heat, add the drained struffoli and toss well. Transfer the struffoli to a serving plate and shape into a mound or wreath. Decorate as desired.

    7. TO SERVE: For each person, break off a portion of the struffoli with two large spoons or a salad server. Or, pass the plate so people can take what they like.

    You can store struffoli at room temperature, covered with an overturned bowl, for up to 3 days.

    STRUFFOLI HISTORY

    The ancestor of struffoli dates back to ancient Greece. A similar dish is described by Archestratus, a Greek poet from Sicily.

    Called enkris, the dough balls were fried in olive oil (source).

    The name derives from the Greek word strongoulos, meaning “rounded in shape.”

    Fast forward to the early 17th century. The nuns of Naples were famous for their sweets, which they sold to the public. Each convent had a specialty. According to tradition, struffoli are considered good luck because the balls are a symbol of abundance.

    At Christmas, the nuns made struffoli as gifts for their aristocratic patrons, to thank them for their charity throughout the year. The tradition was copied by home cooks and became a Christmas tradition (source).

     
      

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    RECIPE: Lemon Cream Pie

    Lemon Cream Pie

    Zested Lemon

    [1] A yummy way to celebrate National Lemon Cream Pie Day (photo courtesy The Baker Chick). [2] You can use any extra lemon zest to garnish the pie, with or without the candied mint leaves (photo courtesy Sunkist).

     

    It’s November 29th: National Lemon Cream Pie Day.

    We adapted this classic recipe from one of our favorite bakers, Audra, The Baker Chick (who adapted it from Martha Stewart).

    We have two less classic recipes for your consideration:

  • Frozen Lemon Vodka Cream Pie, made with lemon sorbet, frozen lemonade and Greek yogurt
  • Lemon Cream Pie made with sweetened condensed milk
  •  
    For a seasonal touch, we garnished our pie with candied mint leaves (recipe below), an old-fashioned treat that was often served as a confection with afternoon tea.

    RECIPE 31: LEMON CREAM PIE

    Ingredients For 1 Nine-Inch Pie

  • 1 single layer pie crust (here’s Audra’s pie crust recipe)
  •  
    For the Lemon Filling

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  •  
    For the Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon gelatin*
  • Optional garnish: candied mint leaves (recipe below)
  •  
    ________________
    *The gelatin stabilizes the whipped cream topping, so it doesn’t collapse after a few hours. If you plan to serve the pie immediately, you can skip this step.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 425°F. Roll out the crust and drape it over a 9-inch pie dish, trimming and crimping the sides. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and place it in the freezer while the oven preheats.

    2. LINE the chilled crust with foil and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are set. Remove the the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes. If the crust puffs up, just flatten it with a fork. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F.

    3. MAKE the filling. Whisk together the eggs, lemon juice, sour cream, salt, sugar and zest. Pour into the crust and carefully place back into the oven. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the edges of the pie are completely set, with the inside still a bit jiggly. Let cool completely before proceding. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the pie in the freezer.

    4. MAKE the topping. If using the gelatin, dissolve it in cold water and then place in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until dissolved. Let cool slightly.

    5. WHIP the cream and sugar with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the liquid gelatin and continue to whisk until you have medium peaks. Spread whipped cream onto cooled pie and serve chilled. If using the mint leaves, add just before serving.

     

    RECIPE #2: CANDIED MINT LEAVES

    Also called crystallized mint leaves, crystal mint leaves and sugared mint leaves, we know that President Lincoln and his wife Mary enjoyed them on cakes, in salads and as sweetmeats, along with candied flower petals.

    You can candy edible flowers with the same recipe. Just be sure they’re organic—no pesticides.

    Use them to garnish beverages and desserts, including ice cream.

    The candied leaves must be made 24 hours in advance so they can dry.

    If you can find a specialty mint—apple mint, chocolate mint, lemon bergamot or orange bergamot mint—so much the better!
     
    Ingredients

  • 1 large egg white
  • 12 fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ cup superfine† sugar
  • ________________
    †You can pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice grinder to make it superfine.
     
     
    Preparation

    1. SELECT 12 attractive mint leaves of similar size (unless you want a range of sizes). Remove them from the stalk, keeping the stems with the leaves. Rinse in cool water and gently pat dry with a paper towel.

    2. BEAT the egg white until frothy. If concerned about raw egg whites, use pasteurized egg whites like Davidson’s Safest Choice.

     

    Fresh Mint

    Mint Leaf Garnish

    [3] Fresh mint (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [4] Candied mint leaves are a lovely garnish (photo courtesy VegSpinz).

     
    3. BRUSH a thin layer of egg onto the mint leaves, evenly coating both sides so the sugar sticks evenly. If the mixture is too runny, let it sit a minute before proceeding.

    4. TRANSFER the leaves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving enough space between them so they don’t stick together. Let them dry for 24 hours, uncovered.

    5. STORE the leaves in an airtight container if not using immediately. If you don’t like the look of the stems, trim them before garnishing (the serve as a convenient handle until then).
     

    CREAM VS. CREME

    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why do some people write “creme pie” instead of “creme pie?”

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream. In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, many of whom knew how to pronounce French properly.

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème (KREHM) as cream (KREEM). Some people dispensed with the accent mark, to provide a mashup of French and English, and either became acceptable.

    But to display your erudition, when discussing a French dish, e.g. Crème Brûlée, use crème; when discussing an American dish, e.g. Chocolate Cream Pie, use cream.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Wine & Cake For A Dessert Party…Or Just Dessert!

    Want a dessert party that’s different?

    How about a wine and cake tasting? As with any other food and wine, the right pairings enhance the enjoyment of both components.

    So as not to stress the budget, you can make it a co-op party, assigning different cakes and wines to the participants.

    Select five or so pairings for a group of 10-12; more for a larger crowd. We made all of the cakes as sheet cakes, easy to cut into squares or slivers. It’s tough to cut thin slices of layer cakes.

    Place each cake on a platter with a place cards or index cards to identify them and provide cake/pie servers so people can help themselves, and further cut the squares for smaller tastes.

    We set everything on a buffet: the cakes with the matching wines and wine glasses behind them, plus serving plates, forks and napkins.

    Re the cake/pie servers: It’s nice to have a server for each cake. You can borrow from friends, use metal spatulas and other items you already have, or buy this inexpensive set of five for $11.99.

    These pairings were created by Alice Feiring, an award-winning wine writer and book author; and sent to us by Amara.com, an elegant lifestyle website.

    Alice has provided explanations for why these pairings work (the “Why,” below). If your crowd is interested, you can print the information index cards underneath the name of each cake and wine pairing.

    CAKE & WINE PAIRINGS
     
    1. APPLE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Off-dry sparkling wine, such as a demi-sec Vouvray from the Loire region of France.
  • Why: Off-dry sparkling wines with a hint of apple or lemon are a perfect pairing.
  •  
    2. CARDAMOM CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Pear cider (an off-dry hard cider also called perry).
  • Why: Pears and cardamom accent each other so well in recipes; the same pairing translates to wine. You can also try this pairing with other spice cakes.
  •  
    3. CARROT CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Ice cider, similar to ice wine, but made with apples instead of grapes.
  • Why: Carrot cake has spicy flavors and creamy frosting, both of which pair well with the intensity, acidity and honey notes of ice cider.
  •  
    4. CHEESECAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Aromatic wine, spicy and exotic, such as Gewürztraminer from the Alsace region of France or from Germany.
  • Why: Aromatic wines stand up to dense cheesecakes. The low alcohol level is right for the creaminess.
  •  
    5. COCONUT CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparkling, white, gently sweet desert wine, such as Moscato d’Asti from Italy.
  • Why: The light sweetness of a sparkling desert wine complements the less sweet coconut.
  •  
    6. FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Oxidized, fortified wine such as Madeira from Portugal.
  • Why: Fortified wines that have been exposed to heat develop a complex muted, caramel-like saltiness—think toffee, dried fruit and orange rind—which complement the ground nuts in the cake.
  •    

    Carrot Cake

    Cheesecake

    Coconut Cake

    Flourless Chocolate Cake

    [1] Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and filling (photo courtesy Harry & David). [2] A classic cheesecake (photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake). [3] Coconut layer cake (photo courtesy Taste Of Home). [4] Flourless Chocolate Cake (photo courtesy David Glass).

     

    Strawberry Shortcake

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    Nacho Cheesecake

    [5] Strawberry shortcake (photo courtesy G Bakes). [6] The retro Pineapple Upside -Down Cake (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour). [7] A savory cheesecake (Nacho Cheesecake photo from Taste Of Home; the recipe link is at #12).

     

    7. LEMON POPPY CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Apple mint vermouth (look for Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint)—semisweet and fragrant.
  • Why: The bitter from the vermouth accents the almost fruity snap of the poppy seeds.
  •  
    8. OLIVE OIL CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparking white wine, like a slightly sweet Malvasia Dolce Frizzante from Italy.
  • Why: The aromatic lightness of a slightly sweet sparkling wine matches the dense olive oil without being overpowering.
  •  
    9. ORANGE-CHOCOLATE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Dry amber (orange) wine, spicy with notes of orange blossom. Look for amber wines from France, Italy and Australia—they’re relatively new in the U.S.
  • Why: The juicy, slightly tannic wine supports the strong cake flavors without undoing the power of the chocolate orange combination.
  •  
    10. PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sweet white wine such as a Jurançon Moelleux from France—unctuous with good acid and lemon/peach notes.
  • Why: The tropical flavor from the grape, petit manseng, especially from the Jurançon, marries the syrupy fruit. Its extreme acidity keeps the match fresh”.
  •  
    11. STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Sparking rosé.
  • Why: The berry fruitiness of sparkling rosé echoes the fragrant strawberries in the cake.
  •  
    12. SAVORY CHEESE CAKE & WINE

  • Wine Type: Savory cheesecake is an appetizer or first course rather than a dessert; or it can stand in for the cheese course or a dessert for people who don’t like sweets! Look for a Carignan, Grenache, Syrah or blend. Check out these savory cheesecake recipes:
  •  
    Blue Cheese Cheesecake
    Basil, Lobster & Tuna Cheesecake Recipes
    Nacho Cheesecake Recipe
    Provolone & Corn Cheesecake

  • Why: Deep red wines are a great match for the sharp cheese flavors.
  •  
    MORE DESSERT & WINE PAIRINGS

    Here are THE NIBBLE’s recommendations for:

  • Pairing Desserts & Wine: everything from crème brûlée to mousse to pie
  • Pairing Ice Cream & Wine
  • Pairing Chocolate & Wine
  •  
    HAPPY NIBBLING!

      

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